What am I doing

I don't even like Jars

()()()

Norman Jayden was always clumsy with handcuffs; his classmates used to make fun of him at the academy during training because of that. He constantly shifted his tense, vibrant teal eyes over to the closed door of the interrogation room where his irascible partner Carter Blake had stomped out a minute earlier. If he was caught aiding a prisoner, he'd be kicked off the case or—worse—thrown out of the agency. But what did he have to lose? His joke of a career? As he fumbled with the tiny key to the metal clasps that he'd held in his suit pocket up until that point, Jayden thought no more of it. Too much thinking, and this would be in vain.

He felt Ethan's gaze—nervous and powder blue—settle upon him as Jayden gripped the thin, hair-covered wrist with his hand. "What are you doing?" He inquired, somewhat surprised, but not blatantly shocked. Perhaps he could see the steady benevolence in the FBI agent's eyes, the understanding that he was holding the arm of an innocent man; a father that merely wanted to save his son. Jayden knew that Ethan Mars was as far from a killer as one could get. He did not match the profile, and Jayden was never wrong when it came to the précis that he'd spent so many years of his schooling trying to perfect. And not two hours earlier, when he'd pressed the muzzle of his Baretta into Ethan's chest and ordered him under arrest, there was something in his gaze that immediately disarmed the agent—pure sadness, donated to the look of a man who had failed.

"I'm breakin' you outta here." Jayden's Northeastern accent, thick as the hazy rainstorm that pattered on the roof of the Philadelphia police station outside, obstructed his speech. Just as he uttered the heavy phrase, the lock on the handcuffs clicked free and Ethan jerked his arm suddenly from the cold metal as if burned. He rubbed the angry red ring around his wrist and regarded Jayden gratefully. For a moment, Jayden saw the leanest hint of a smile on the man's tired, stubble-ridden face, but it disappeared before coming into full view.

"Well, thanks," Ethan murmured, having severed eye contact with Jayden. All for the better, the FBI agent noted dully—his antisocial self was too unsettled to maintain a connection for too long. "But how are you going to do that? Isn't this place crawling with people who want me dead?"

Jayden flickered his overwrought eyes to the security camera in the corner, which he'd disabled a few moments earlier to prevent the escape attempt to be caught on tape. Bastards already have enough evidence. "More ah less," Jayden hastily but halfheartedly agreed. "But I can get ya out, I promise. I know what to do. Just follow my lead." He headed over to the corner where he'd shed his overcoat and suit jacket before the interrogation had begun and had kept a watchful eye on it during Blake's turn with Ethan. As he did so, he felt the wary but relieved prisoner's expression study him as if the very fact that he was defying the law was fascinating. Jayden could identify with his curiosity—after all, an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation doing the exact opposite of what he was conscripted to do was definitely strange, if not completely wrong.

But Jayden accepted the consequences. He understood right from wrong, and this was right.

Stooping to the small pile of clothing, Jayden retracted his raincoat. The cover was navy blue, as was everything else in the station, and read POLICE on the back in capital letters so blindingly white that the profession of the wearer was impossible to miss. He'd borrowed the coat from the uniform lockers earlier, having planned this well in advance to the actual examination. He figured Ethan Mars would be arrested eventually, and he figured he would be the one to interrogate him. The hunch had been correct—and Jayden could finish what he started so that this guiltless man could go free.

Jayden handed Ethan the jacket. "Wear this," he said. "Put up ta' hood and keep yer head down. Don't look at anyone, don't speak. Just walk toward the exit of the station, and ya should be able to slip by unnoticed if yer quick about it."

Nodding slowly, Ethan took the overcoat and slid it over his broad arms, zipping the front in total silence. Ducking his face toward the floor, the man stooped visibly and began to hurry toward the door of the tight room. Right as his hand hovered over the silver handle, he paused and glanced over his shoulder. "Thanks. I… uh, don't know what to say," Ethan admitted, his voice as soft and tender as it was during the interrogation. It was the voice of a distraught father; that much was patent to even the hardened spirit of Norman Jayden.

"Don't say enethin," Jayden replied. "Just go. Ya don't got much time."

Ethan still did not move, and Jayden found that he was growing frustrated and impatient with this man. Why did he just leave already? The minutes were slipping by, grains of sand in the hourglass, and he was wasting them. "Before I do," Ethan murmured, perhaps only minimally understanding the vital crux of the situation, "what's your name, officer? I didn't catch it. The bearded man called you 'Norman,' but I wanted to be sure."

Jayden's fists clenched at his sides, but he permitted the fugitive the answer he desired. "Agent Nahman Jayden," he responded, teeth gritted in haste and worry. "I'm not an offaca—I'm from the FBI. Now go."

For nary the slightest second, a cheerful shadow passed over the rugged face of Ethan Mars—an invisible gust of wind blowing a good-humored smile on his thin and chapped lips. Pivoting on his heel, Ethan turned away from the door and faced the agent, the crinkled POLICE fading into the backdrop of the hoary four walls that surrounded and shielded them. Before Jayden could give him an exasperated shove in the right direction, Ethan took one restless step in his direction, crossing the shallow rift that separated them and reached out to clutch the gray suit that dressed Jayden's shoulders. Leaning forward, the slightly taller man planted his mouth on the agent's drawn lips.

Norman Jayden could not move. He'd always had pride in his reflexes, which—when not bogged down by the aftereffects of triptocaine—were always sharp in the face of danger and caused him to act accordingly. But now, all of a sudden, his years of training and instinct were utterly frozen. As much as his mind screamed at him to push Ethan away, to punch him, to run, his body simply would not budge. He hadn't been kissed in years; not since he'd entered the bureau and sworn off all sexual and emotional contact with others. They only stood in his path—just as Ethan Mars was doing right this second. Somehow, in spite of that, the world fell away at Jayden's feet and left only a black hole of unadulterated sensation.

After what seemed like an eternity, but truly was only a second or two, Ethan pulled back, a string of saliva connecting him and Jayden's shocked, immobile face. The agent's kaleidoscopic eyes were wide, an entranced deer, as he gradually lowered himself back down on his heels, as he'd unconsciously risen up on his toes to meet the slight height difference between him and the suspect. And then, the rusted wheels of an old steam locomotive jerking into action, Jayden stumbled back. His mouth opens as his face turns the brightest shade of scarlet that it's been in a long time, but he cannot even manage a weak sputter of astonishment. Instead, he staggers back yet further until his back hits the opposing wall, as if intoxicated by the strange kiss he just shared with this exhausted, resolute father.

Gauging his reaction with detectable amusement, Ethan Mars only grinned pleasantly. Jayden was stabbed by that, as if he'd just offered the man some coffee, and he was politely declining. "When I find Shaun," he said in the gentle, buttery voice that makes Jayden feel frail—and the mark of his tone definitely insinuated when and not if—"when this is all over, I'll come and thank you properly." With that, Ethan turned around again and departed the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

The agent was left in a crumpled heap, flustered, and unsure if he was regretting this.

()()()

Except the video camera actually wasn't turned off, so Jayden got kicked off the case. And Blake made copies of the footage and distributed it around the station.

Excuse my lack of updates regarding Choke and Swallow. December was a tough month school-wise, and January will be even worse. Whether or not I can get around to posting another chapter before Christmas break is over remains to be seen.